By: Alex Kraskowsky, Rigo Barragán, John Salas
For CSUSB students and staff, daily commuting is the norm with most of the University’s students living off campus. Most of these commuters come from all over San Bernardino and Riverside counties from Montclair all the way to Rialto. Ever since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the decreased oil output from Russia and OPEC, there has been a massive surge in inflation and more importantly in gas prices. With the price per gallon now reaching upwards of $6.40 it has become increasingly harder for students to make their daily commutes to school. Combine this recent surge in prices with the average yearly income of a student; commuting seems to be becoming a less viable option. Now staff and students are in a position to figure solutions to this new problem that they are facing.
As of June 13th, average gas prices across the state are $6.27 according to the California Energy Commission, a 1.45% increase since last week, leading to the cost to fill a gas tank anywhere between $81.51 to $94.05.To put things into the perspective of a student’s wallet the average weekly income for a student in California is between $300 to $600. To fill up just one tank of gas it would put a tremendous strain on a student’s finances. With CSUSB’s relaxing of COVID restrictions and phasing out remote instruction, many students are having to make multiple trips to campus every week and are feeling the pinch of steadily rising fuel costs.
Alex Kraskowsky, a student at CSUSB gives us insight on how this recent rise in gas prices affects his weekly finances. “In my earlier years at the University I would have to make 4 round trips from Fontana to CSUSB every week. Usually I would have to fill up my tank about once every week and a half. Before the recent invasion of Ukraine the price to fill up my tank was usually around $60. Now it’s more like $87. Combine that with all of my other essential expenses and that is about over half of my bi – weekly paycheck gone.” “Zoom instruction had been really helpful for me in saving money since I didn’t have to drive in from Riverside,” remarked Rigo Barragan, a commuter student; “Now I’m spending over a hundred dollars a week in gas compared to three months ago when I was only spending a hundred dollars a month.” When asked what he felt about the university’s transition back to in person classes Barragan stated, “I feel that many students would benefit from the university offering more remote learning classes again to help ease the financial pressure on students.”
This recent crisis has put not only the students but the staff as well in a very tough position to make changes in the way that everyone gets to and from school on a daily basis. With no end to the gas crisis in sight, students and staff are adapting and using alternate forms of transportation like bicycling, ridesharing, using the CommuterLink bus, and using other forms of public transportation. These alternative forms for transportation seem to be alleviating some of the financial strain that students are experiencing; However, they are a short-term solution to a longer-term problem of society’s overall reliance of fossil fuels as a part of daily life and the need to consider broader long-term solutions to provide affordable and sustainable energy for the future. Adoption of alternative fuel vehicles in the market has been slow and steady over the past decade, but necessity could accelerate the transition to hybrid and electric vehicles.